Shinde confirms visit of Pak Interior Minister

NEW DELHI - Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday confirmed that his Pakistan counterpart Rehman Malik will visit India from December 14 to 16.

Malik had expressed his desire to spend his birthday, which falls on December 12, at the Taj Mahal, but had to reschedule his visit as he is accompanying Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Turkey.

"He (Rehman Malik) spoke to me and even wrote a letter informing me that on December 12 he is going to Turkey along with his President and other leaders. But he will come to India on December 14 and have a three-day stay till December 16, he has confirmed that," said Shinde.

Commenting on the mercy petition of Mohammad Afzal Guru, who was convicted for an attack on the parliament in 2001, Shinde said that his appeal along with seven others were pending in his office and he would only look at them after the winter session of parliament is concluded.

"I don't have only Afzal Guru's file with me, there are seven more files in my department and I will examine every file after this session of parliament is concluded," Shinde added.

Informal meetings, during international cricket matches, or in this case before Zardari's pilgrimage to the Sufi shrine, have become the hallmark of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's diplomacy.

In November, Singh met former Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Maldives and promised to open a new chapter in their history. Hopes are focused on boosting trade and tourism, and resolving the conflict at the Siachen glacier and Sir Creek in the west.

General Pervez Musharraf, the last Pakistani head of state to visit India in 2005, has said both issues were as good as fixed while he was in office.

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